If you're anything like I am, you're itching to travel and you just don't know how. I've personally never been out of the United States before due to money, however Studying Abroad in college is something I am incredibly interested in trying out! Today I'm excited to introduce Mikkaela who writes over at The Southwestern Prepster who will share her experience on how to pick a Study Abroad program to give insight to those of you who don't know where to start (like me)!
My name is Mikkaela and I blog over at The Southwestern Prepster, a college lifestyle and fashion-oriented blog! It is my pleasure that Dani has given me the opportunity to be here with you. I hope you find this post helpful, and you can always visit TSP for more!
If you’re in college, you’ve probably thought at least once about studying abroad! If you haven’t, then you should definitely look into it!
I just ended my freshman year of college by studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. I know, crazy! I was a bit scared about extending my school year and eating into my summer (I only had 5 days to pack up my dorm, go home, and spend time with family for Mother’s Day before I left), but it ended up being such an amazing decision.
Quite a few people have been surprised when I explain I picked Prague, so I thought I’d give some advice on how to find the right program for you!
Talk to Your Study Abroad Adviser
For me, the most important aspect about talking to an adviser was figuring out how to find a program that fit my course track. I’m on a specific degree track that doesn’t exactly make studying abroad the easiest thing to do.
I would never have found out about my Prague program if I hadn’t told my advisor: “I really want this, but I don’t know how to make it work.” Don’t try to do this all alone with some random affiliate program because if you don’t check off all your boxes you could potentially not get credit for your class(es)!
The job of your advisors are to help you – I know sometimes they aren’t super helpful, but for the most part, if you show that you are committed to doing a little research on your own and that you’re serious about it, it makes them become more serious about you.
Know What You Want
Currently I am really interested in International Business, and am considering pursuing a Certificate. I knew I wanted to learn a bit more about how businesses function internationally so when I found out about this program, I was really excited!
There are so many different options, and you definitely want to be a bit open-minded but personally I think it’s a good idea to at least have a little direction to your thoughts, whether it be a region of the world you’d like to study in or even a certain budget.
Around 8 months ago, the only thing I knew about Prague is that it is in the Czech Republic. It turns out some of the other students in my program didn’t even know Prague existed. Initially, I pretty much had my heart set on studying in the United Kingdom. But as I learned about the different programs, how the schedules and tuition functioned, and everything else going on in my life, I realized it wasn’t the most feasible plan for me right now.
Have an idea of what you want, but be willing to change those plans if necessary!
Talk to Upperclassmen and Faculty
If I hadn’t asked around my Fraternity for brothers who have studied abroad, I wouldn’t have known half the things I did about where to go, what to do, what to eat, and how to budget.
Upperclassmen truly are a wealth of knowledge. Don’t be intimidated, let’s be honest for a minute: you’re asking them to talk about an experience they most likely loved!
Additionally, if you’re looking into a faculty-directed program, get to know your faculty a little bit ahead of time. Ask them for suggestions on things to bring, what they saw students struggling with, and how to maximize your time there.
Seriously though, studying abroad can get expensive. Not only are you paying your program tuition, but housing, food, textbooks, souvenirs, shopping, and travel expenses.
It can all add up really quickly. Talk to your parents and advisor if you think you won’t have enough money to make it happen this next semester/summer, the farther away it is, the more time you have to save up money! Practice budgeting for the trip by putting yourself on one right now, applying for scholarships, or potentially getting a job/asking for a few extra hours.
It may hurt now, but every student on my program exclaimed that it was all beyond worth it. In the words of my friend Stephanie, “this experience was worth every Starbucks Frappuccino I had to make to get here.”
Hope you find these tips helpful, and feel free to email or hop over to my blog if you have any questions! Good luck with your program hunting – it definitely can be a grueling process, but it is more than worth it.
Catch you next time
About the Author:
Mikkaela // The Southwestern Prepster
I enjoy laughing louder than necessary, math, glitter, tennis, extensive arguments, documentaries, surprises, golf, lengthy novels, and anything monogrammed with a bow on it. Oh, and the Oxford Comma? Very relevant to life.